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Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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Scarface: Make Way
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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Monday, November 14, 2011
The Nashville Public Library will host a free screening of Brian De Palma's Obsession this Saturday, November 19th. In anticipation of the screening, "Movies at Main" program coordinator William Chamberlain interviewed producer George Litto for the Popmatic Podcast. Litto talked about how he came to be De Palma's agent for a year, and then producer of three of the director's films. Regarding Obsession, Litto tells the story of how John Lithgow came to be cast in the film (Cliff Robertson read with Lithgow and liked him, although he told Litto he didn't "normally like to work with actors who are taller than me"). Litto also talks about how he kept nagging De Palma that he needed to fix the third act of Obsession. After impressing Bernard Herrmann as the two discussed what the composer would need in order to perform his score for the film, Litto told Chamberlain that Herrmann smiled, turned to De Palma and said, "You know, for a producer, he's not so bad. Okay, mister wiseguy producer, since you know everything, you know you need a new third act, don't you, on this movie?" Litto replied, "Mr. Herrmann, please tell that to the director." Litto then was off to Italy, while De Palma stayed in London to cast the movie. When Litto returned to London, De Palma called him to tell him he had a new third act.

Later in the interview, Chamberlain asks Litto what he would have changed about Obsession to make it better, and Litto said that that had been the one thing to change: "Well, the third act was critical. In the original version, Cliff Robertson gets on a plane to find this girl who betrayed him, not knowing it's his daughter. And he finally locates her in Florence, at a nunnery, catatonic. It would have been very downbeat, and to me, unsatisfying. It would have been, you know, a tragedy. And I said no, it's really a story of love. It's a father and daughter in search of each other. You can't leave the audience unsatisfied. So changing that ending was the critical thing."

The interview also touches on Dressed To Kill and several other films and filmmakers Litto has been involved with. In other news, Arrow Video will release a regular DVD edition of Obsession on January 30, 2012. This past summer, Arrow released a Blu-Ray edition of the film.

Posted by Geoff at 6:18 PM CST
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Sunday, November 13, 2011
Peter Elbling, who portrayed "Juicy Fruit" member Harold Oblong in Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, is raising money for a new short film, Mr. Vinegar And The Ants. The film stars Elbling as "an inept bumbler who, thinking he is better than he is, inevitably brings the world crashing down on his own head." The film will feature physical humor in the style of Chaplin, Keaton, and Mr. Bean. The plan is to make the short film and bring it to festivals as Elbling and his team works toward getting financing for a "Mr. Vinegar" feature.

Elbling is offering special perks for Phantom fans-- note the limited quantities available, so you may want to check with Elbling (via PeterElbling.com) to make sure a perk you are expecting is still available before you make your donation. Here they are:

$125 USD donation: Phantompalooza II poster signed by the cast (2 available)
$75 USD donation: French PAL version of the DVD with complete cast interviews. Still in shrink wrap. (1 available)
$60 USD donation: French PAL version of the DVD with complete cast interviews. Opened (1 available)
$50 USD donation: Phantompalooza II T-shirt (10 available).
$10 USD donation: Buttons or Guitar pics with Death Records Logo. (40 available)

Posted by Geoff at 10:20 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:26 AM CST
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rie Rasmussen's 2009 debut feature Human Zoo finally had its U.S. premiere last night at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. (Tarantino befriended Rasmussen around the time he was working on Inglourious Basterds, and invited Rasmussen to hang out on the set of that film.) Human Zoo will play again tonight and tomorrow night (Saturday & Sunday) as a double feature with Luc Besson's Angel-A, which starred Rasmussen in the title role. Rasmussen will be on hand for a Q&A following each screening of Human Zoo throughout the week (last night's Q&A was moderated by Elvis Mitchell).

In an interview with Collider's Christina Radish, Rasmussen talked about the autobiographical nature of Human Zoo, and how she ended up acting in it, as well as writing and directing. She was also asked about what she learned from working with Brian De Palma, Besson, and Tarantino:

At the time, Brian De Palma was such a hard-on for me. I was just really losing my shit, to work with him (on Femme Fatale). I was on set for as much as I could be, which was probably a month, and I only shot for four or five days. But, I did do that one, long steadi-cam shot that is the Brian De Palma signature. That was so awesome for me. It was following me! Who even cares about the rest of the movie? No. In my formative years, Brian De Palma taught me by watching him. From when I was 18 to 25, there was nothing better than Brian.

From 12 to 15 or 16, there was nothing better than Luc Besson, with Big Blue and La Femme Nikita. That was it. With Angel-A, he wanted to prove to everybody that he could make a feature film in six weeks, put it out five months later, package it and distribute it for no money.

Watching Quentin Tarantino write his new magnum opus, motherfucker of a film, Django Unchained, has been more than a lesson in writing. I always knew that the man was genius, but I have been astonished at what comes out of him. He’ll read me the scenes. He’s like, “I just had to redo this scene and I want to read you this new dialogue I wrote.” He read me this dialogue, and I was just on my ass. Just to watch him rattle it off like that, he’s genius. So, yeah, you learn. I pay attention. My eyes are wide open, and my eyelids are pinned to the back of my head.

According to The Playlist's Jeff Otto, Tarantino said that with Human Zoo, "Rie Rasmussen makes an electrifying directorial debut. It’s as shocking and violent as it is moving and charming." It is worth noting that Rasmussen has worked with cinematographer Thierry Arbogast on all three of her formulative films, first meeting him on De Palma's Femme Fatale, then working together on Besson's Angel-A before shooting Rasmussen's Human Zoo. Rasmussen told Collider that her next project as director will be Good and Evil, which is written by Nicolas Constantine as an adaptation of Philip Carlo's novel The Night Stalker, based on the life of Richard Ramirez. Prior to Rasmussen's involvement in that project, James Franco had been rumored to be interested in playing the lead role.

Posted by Geoff at 9:59 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:23 AM CST
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Monday, November 7, 2011
Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley will be on hand to present Brian De Palma's Carrie this Friday, November 11, at the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Buckley, a Fort Worth native, also appears in one of the festival's new films, Five Time Champion, which screens Thursday night (November 10).

If you buy a $20 ticket to the Carrie screening, you also get a copy of Laurie's new memoir, Learning To Live Out Loud, in which she includes a section about her work on Carrie. Laurie recalls reading the script and not being very impressed. But then her husband, Joe Morgenstern, mentioned that De Palma "often has a comedic approach to his work," and she read the script again from a satirical angle and became quite inspired. During a rehearsal period with De Palma and Sissy Spacek, however, Laurie went a little overboard when she began pulling her hair during the scene where she is trying to keep Carrie from going to the prom (the script had called for Laurie to tear her own clothes, but not wanting to shred the work of the costumers during rehearsal, she devised the hair-pulling stunt). De Palma stopped her, saying, "Piper, you can't do that. You'll get a laugh!" It was then that Laurie realized she had mis-guessed the tone of De Palma's film. She kept the hair-pulling, but toned it down by making the pain she was feeling more introspective and deep, and here one can get a sense of the creative energy that led to this uncanny Oscar-nominated performance. When she went back home to New York, she decided to see every De Palma film she could, "including Phantom Of The Paradise, which had just opened. Very operatic-- [De Palma] liked that," Laurie writes. "I needed not be afraid to be big."

Earlier in the chapter, Laurie writes of her first meeting with the director. Laurie was nervous and, having not worked on a film in some 15 years, wanted to impress. She writes that De Palma "asked not one thing about me or what I thought of the script. Instead, he proceeded to tell me a great deal about himself and the work he had done, as if he were seeking a job from me and I were interviewing him. I realized he was trying to make me feel comfortable, and I was quite touched." Needless to say, as Laurie describes it, the two of them got along very smoothly on the set.

Elsewhere, Laurie, who had recently had back surgery, describes her initial fears of being jerked back onto the bed in Carrie's room via a harness. She had kept the surgery a secret, but now had to confide in De Palma, who instantly said they didn't have to do it that way and could use a body double. But Laurie decided to give it a try, and found that she could do it without any pain, even if she still finds the stunt difficult to watch now without clenching up. Laurie also describes filming her final speech in the film, and the bursts of laughter she would let out in between takes of her final death-by-cutlery scene.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:25 AM CST
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Sunday, November 6, 2011
Mark Isham had a very interesting conversation with Broadway World's Pat Cerasaro, in which the composer discussed, among other projects, his work on Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. While there was a version of The Black Dahlia screened for test audiences in early 2006 that was longer than the final released film, Isham seems pretty certain there was no overt studio involvement that specifically led to the shorter version. Instead, he speculates that producer Art Linson may have simply discussed with De Palma trimming the almost three-hour cut down to two hours. Isham also relates how he initially mis-guessed what kind of music De Palma would want for The Black Dahlia. Here is the section of the interview pertaining to that film:

PC: What was it like working with Brian De Palma on THE BLACK DAHLIA? Was it cumbersome to come in already knowing his amazing legacy of great scores for his films - particularly those by Pino Donaggio and Ennio Morricone? His film’s scores are always so specific.

MI: Well, he was a gentlemen about it, too. I think that I had sent him some music early on for that and he didn’t respond to it, and, so, I called the producer and I said, “Look, I would really love to do this movie. What is he looking for?” And the producer sent me over some pieces they were using for the temp-score and I realized that I had completely mis-guessed on how he wanted to score this thing.

PC: Oh, really?

MI: Yeah, so I re-sent him some music and he called me immediately and said, “This is what I am looking for!” So, I think we started off right on the right foot because, once I knew what he was looking for, I duplicated it and presented it to him immediately and he said, “That’s perfect.” So, we went in with a high degree of mutual respect and delight and willingness in doing this together. He was just great. Like you say, he is very specific and when he says, “That’s good,” then, you know you are doing great. [Laughs.]

PC: And if you are not?

MI: “Don’t do that! That’s terrible!” - then you know you have to rewrite it. [Laughs.]

PC: That film was plagued with behind-the-scenes shenanigans and I know there was originally a much, much longer original cut, so how did you deal with that? Did you score that version or only the version that eventually was released? Have you ever gone to an opening night and half your score was missing?

MI: [Laughs.] Actually, I have - but, not on that picture! From the time that we started scoring it, it was pretty much as it came out. I believe that the studio actually stayed out of that and I think what a lot of it was about was that he was working with Art Linson - who produced THE UNTOUCHABLES and they have a long, long history - and, I think Art is one of the few who can say, “Brian, you can’t have a 3-hour movie,” [Laughs.] and Brian will actually respect that.

PC: How interesting.

MI: I think they had already gone through the process of editing it down. Art actually came to me at one point and said, “Look, there are still a couple of things that I think Brian needs to change - but, I think Brian and I have sort of had as much of a discussion as we are going to have, so why don’t you see what you can do to help these areas?” And, then, I think there were a few picture-trims at that point - but, pretty much, I worked on it when it was the final film and not much changed.

PC: There are some thrilling music cues - especially the opening scene with Josh Hartnett and, later, the Fiona Shaw mad scene.

MI: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

PC: Were you influenced by Jerry Goldsmith’s CHINATOWN score?

MI: Oh, yes - of course. I love that score and know it very well.

Editor Bill Pankow has described how he had to edit down the k.d. lang song and floor show in the lesbian night club from five minutes to one minute, so it does seem there was at least the potential for some trimming even after Isham had completed his score. Pankow showed the uncut version of the scene to a master class in 2007, describing how he managed to get it down to one minute. Perhaps one day, we will get a cut of the film that is a bit longer...

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 11:32 PM CST
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Saturday, November 5, 2011
The second trailer for Brad Bird's upcoming Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol was released last week, and Flickering Myth's Rohan Morbey included this juxtaposition of a screen shot with one from Brian De Palma's 1996 M:I film. This placement of Jeremy Renner as a direct homage to De Palma and Tom Cruise's showstopping moment in the first film (which itself was an homage to Jules Dassin's Topkapi, MI creator Bruce Geller's original inspiration for the TV series) seems to bolster the idea (rumor) that Cruise and company are looking toward Renner to possibly take over at some point as lead actor in the franchise.

Bird told the Los Angeles Times' Geoff Boucher that he watched the earlier films in the series to find the playful rhythms he wanted to weave into his version. "One of my favorite moments acting-wise were the scenes [Cruise] did with Vanessa Redgrave; he kind of came alive in a slightly different way,” Bird told Boucher in reference to the De Palma picture. “You could tell he had a lot of respect for Redgrave and knew that he had to be on his game because she was going to get every drop out of her part of the scene, so he better get every drop of his. There was a playfulness to those scenes together that I really liked. When you see the [new] film, it’s a little more playful than the other Mission: Impossible films — hopefully without undermining the suspense or action.”

Meanwhile, Cruise is currently shooting his next movie, One Shot, which also features Werner Herzog, not as director, but as actor. Herzog plays the villain in the Christopher McQuarrie adaptation of the novel by Lee Child, which Cruise is hoping will be the first film in a new franchise. Herzog spoke with Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale yesterday about working with Cruise, and Cruise's knack for working with great directors. Herzog surprised VanAirsdale when he stated that De Palma "is certainly the better director than me." Here is the excerpt:

VanAirsdale: Cruise is an interesting actor to me — someone who’s never directed, but who’s instead worked with some of the foremost filmmakers of the last half-century: Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, and many others. Have you met him?
Herzog: Yes.

What do you think of his regard for filmmakers? Do you think his wanting to work with you in this context was because he probably wouldn’t have the chance otherwise?
No, he does not work with me. He works with the director, Chris McQuarrie. I’m only a partner in crime onscreen. But let me try to describe him: Yes, he has worked with some very, very good — very good — serious filmmakers. But what strikes me is that sometimes you can tell from five miles’ distance: “This is a professional man. He means business.” He’s extremely well-prepared, very good to work with, very respectful — a very kind human being. And you can tell, strangely enough, from five miles’ distance.

McQuarrie aside, being on this set is probably as close to working with you as Tom Cruise is going to get, considering the films you make.
Not necessarily, because the kind of films he has been into — like Mission: Impossible — I’m convinced that… I don’t even know who made Mission: Impossible. Who directed Mission: Impossible?

The first one was Brian De Palma.
OK. Brian De Palma is certainly the better director than me.

If I had tried to make Mission: Impossible, I wouldn’t have come up with a film as intense as Brian De Palma. I mean this very film, for example. There are other people who do that better.

Fair enough.

Posted by Geoff at 5:56 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, November 5, 2011 6:05 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tomorrow night, on Halloween, CJOB Radio in Winnipeg will broadcast a 90-minute Phantom Of The Paradise special from 10:30pm to midnight (central time). The special promises all-new exclusive interviews with Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, and "Juicy Fruits" Peter Elbling, Archie Hahn, and Jeffrey Comanor. The participants will discuss the film, as well as Phantompalooza I and II. What's that you say? You don't live in Winnipeg? Oh, that's okay-- you can listen live online at CJOB.com.

Meanwhile, Fangoria has been running its own interviews with Phantom collaborators of late. Last month's issue (#307) featured an interview with Harper, in which she revealed that when Brian De Palma took her out to dinner the night of her screen test in Los Angeles, they were joined by Martin Scorsese. She also mentioned that Steven Spielberg visited the Phantom "a few times." When asked by Fangoria's Chris Alexander how Phantom was pitched to her, Harper replied, "It was never pitched as a horror film; I understood it to be a spoof rock musical. Originally it was called Phantom Of The Fillmore, which spoke to me because I used to hang out at the Fillmore East all the time. But I never thought of it as a horror movie."

Despite that, Phantom Of The Paradise did make Fangoria's 300th issue earlier this year, in which the magazine presented its "Ultimate Horror Movie Guide." In that issue, Michael Koopmans wrote of Phantom, "De Palma plunges you headfirst into the musically excessive world of the 1970s with a film that's part horror, part satire, and complete rock opera."

The current issue of Fangoria (#308) includes an interview by Alexander with Paul Williams, who brought a certain scene from the film itself to mind as he discussed the audition he held in New York for the role of Phoenix:

"I had everyone at the New York audition, including Jessica, sing Leon Russell's Superstar. Jessica was singing it quietly to herself as she waited her turn. I stood behind her and listened-- beautiful. When she sang for Brian and I, she sang out like a Broadway actress reaching the back of the house. I told her to sing softly. It was magical. She killed it.

Williams also mentions to Alexander that he never consciously went for a Phil Spector-type energy in his performance as Swan, saying, "I tried to create what Brian gave me, and his vision was spot-on." At the end of the article, Alexander says to keep checking Fangoria.com "for news of a remarkable genre-related project Williams is part of."

Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 6:42 PM CDT
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Friday, October 28, 2011
Luaine Lee has posted a Halloween "conversation with some of our greatest 'horrormeisters'", for which she interviewed Brian De Palma, Stephen King, Ryan Murphy, William Friedkin, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter. De Palma briefly discussed misperceived allusions to Hitchock in his work, contrasting them with actual allusions to Hitchcock in his films. He also addressed the old question about placing women in danger on screen:

For years DePalma has made thrillers like "Obsession," "Blow Out" and "Body Double." Often skewered by the critics for his Hitchcockian moments, he says, "I can only be who I am. I cannot change the perception of the reviewer. When Carrie gets into the bathtub and (they say) this is a scene from 'Psycho,' I can't help them. All the allusions they've made about Hitchcock in my movies, please. There are some very direct ones obviously."

A car sinks slowly in the murky waters of the swamp in "Raising Cain," that's a takeoff of "Psycho," explains De Palma. "That's very clear. But Carrie getting into the bathtub is not."

De Palma has also been blasted for constantly placing women in danger. "I've been asked that question for many years and my stock answer is that when you make a thriller I think it's more interesting to me to photograph women rather than men. But nobody ever accepted that. That's one of those things like smoking - it went out (of fashion).

"You can't do that anymore. Forget about it. Basically you cannot put women in jeopardy anymore. But I think it's more interesting to put a woman in jeopardy or certainly a child."

A few days ago, I posted about Murphy's American Horror Story on FX. I mentioned the participation of Jennifer Salt, but I forgot to mention that the series features Lily Rabe, daughter of David Rabe and the late Jill Clayburgh, in a key role. In the "horrormeisters" article, Murphy discusses how his show, which he crated with Brad Falchuk, taps into the current economic zeitgeist:

Murphy says their creepy creation reflects the nation's rickety economy and the apprehension that people are feeling. "I mean, even in the past week economically how difficult that is for so many people. And it makes you feel paranoid and suspenseful and worried. And I think that zeitgeist is definitely reflected in the show. I mean, in the show, it talks about all kinds of American horror stories that we are sort of being bombarded with on a day-to-day basis. So I do think that it's a show that's definitely of its time."

Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 11:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The A. V. Club's Keith Phipps called upon Edgar Wright to provide this year's 24-hour horror film marathon. The site encourages readers to rent the movies and watch the marathon at home. Wright's fest would begin at 6pm with David Cronenberg's The Brood, and by 1am, viewers would be watching Brian De Palma's Carrie. Wright explains to the A. V. Club the idea for his fest:

I had this crazy idea, which mostly works, and then there’s one film that completely doesn’t work, and I sort of just lobbed it in. I was trying to think, “Wouldn’t it be good to do a 24-hour marathon that was based on the seven ages of man?” [Laughs.] So I thought “That’s pretty much 15 films in 24 hours, that leaves about two per age, and then you’ve a bonus round at the end.” That’s my idea. So the seven ages of man, as laid out by Shakespeare in As You Like It: the infant, the whining schoolboy, the lover (or teenager), the soldier (and I’m going to interpret that as soldier/young professional), the justice (or the man/adult), the age shifts (becoming old), and the end of this strange eventful history (death). And then I’m going to add eternal life as the bonus at the end.

So in Wright's fest, Carrie falls into the age of the lover:

AVC: Are we on to a new stage of man?

EW: We are. We’re now in the lovers stage, and my favorite horror movie of all time: Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie. The reason I love Carrie so dearly is because I feel like it’s a horror film that absolutely anybody can watch and enjoy. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but I think everybody can relate to it. You sympathize with the main character so much, which is unusual for horror, which frequently has no characters to truly care about. Another great thing about Carrie is that it almost plays like horror’s Grease, in that everybody can watch Carrie and say, “Oh, I was that person,” or “I was that person.” You were either the bullied, the bullier, the person who stood by and did nothing, or the person who tried to help. It’s an amazing movie. I only recently read the book, and it gave me more appreciation for the adaptation by Lawrence Cohen, because in the book, they have a lot more of the city-wide rampage. Basically, the second half of the book is Carrie blowing the town to smithereens. But because of budget, the film wisely climaxes at the prom. My favorite moment in Carrie is the lead-up to the bucket of blood falling, where it totally becomes opera.

Brian De Palma is at his best when he becomes almost like a silent filmmaker, where the plot mechanics are all in action, and it can just play out like a horrible dance of death. And the section setting up the geography of the prom, and where the bucket of blood is, and where the rope is, and who’s holding it, and P.J. Soles swapping the ballots, and Tommy Ross and Carrie White walking up to the stage is glorious. All set to that Pino Donaggio cue called “Bucket Of Blood.” I love it. It’s just amazing. One of my favorite sequences in cinema. So brilliantly conceived and edited. The score is perfect. I love this movie. If I had made something like Carrie, I’d probably retire. It’s just absolute pop perfection.

AVC: The only scene that ever sticks out to me as not working 100 percent is—

EW: Is where it’s sped up when they’re trying on tuxedos? When I look at that now, he’d obviously done stuff like that before in Greetings, the New Wave one. It almost looks like there was a line he didn’t like, and he just sped through it. I totally agree, it stands out from the rest of the movie. And it’s really short, but I’m thinking—and maybe someone can confirm this—that whatever the line is that gets sped through, Brian De Palma said, “All right, I like the start of this shot, and I like the end of it, but I fucking hate this bit in the middle. Let’s just speed it up.”

[A La Mod Editor's note: I've always thought this entire sequence from the start was intended to be sped up as a stylistic choice by De Palma.] Even the slight imperfections in Carrie are things about it that make me love it even more. This isn’t necessarily an imperfection, but I do love, not to give away the ending, the final scene, where Amy Irving is walking along the street to visit the grave, and when it cuts to the headstone, it goes from a sunny day to pitch-black night. And then the soundstage that she’s on is full black behind her. Normally, you would see that as a continuity error, but even that just totally works with the fucked-up dream-logic of the film.

I think there was something, just before they started making Carrie, there was a writers’ strike, and it gave Brian De Palma a full three months to just storyboard the movie. I think it shows, it’s just so perfectly paced. It’s like a Swiss watch, everything totally works. It’s my favorite film of his. I like a lot of his other films, but I think Carrie is the best Stephen King adaptation, favorite horror movie of mine, love it. It’s the perfect date movie as well.

AVC: In what way?

EW: I don’t want to sound sexist. I was going to say it is the horror film that most girls would enjoy, but I think that’s true. The great thing about the movie is that a lot of horror films are about a monster trying to destroy everybody. Here, you have a very sympathetic human being who really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. And although you want to see her reap revenge, you don’t want it to end as badly as it does. It’s my Titanic, in a way, in that every time I watch it, I want Tommy Ross and Carrie White just to have a nice night. I don’t want anything bad to happen. [Laughs.] Every time I watch it, I naïvely think, “Oh, maybe it’ll be okay this time.” You don’t think about those things if you don’t care about the characters. So as much as I enjoy the Grand Guignol climax, it’s a tragic end for her, and she’s an incredibly sweet character, you’re with her all the way. It’s unusual to be on the side of the character who has a destructive power in horror movies. In Carrie, there’s a person who has the ability to kill everybody in town, you’re completely on her side, and yet you don’t want her to exercise that power. It’s amazing.

AVC: Did you ever see the sequel?

EW: The Rage: Carrie 2? I never did. I never saw the remake TV movie, either.

AVC: I never saw the remake, but the sequel, surprisingly, for a movie that did not have to be made in any way, is surprisingly interesting. It’s worth checking out.

EW: I didn’t see that. I’ve seen a lot of the Carrie rip-offs. I remember—probably before I saw Carrie, I saw a film called Jennifer, which is almost shot-for-shot Carrie, where, if memory serves me correctly, she turns into a snake. 1978 horror film. “She’s got the power, and they haven’t got a prayer.” Two years after Carrie. And besides her also having telekinetic and psychic powers, there’s definitely a giant snake in it.

Posted by Geoff at 6:35 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

If you haven't been watching FX Network's American Horror Story or Showtime's Homeland, you should start. American Horror Story, pictured above, is the creepy new series from Ryan Murphy, who created FX's Nip/Tuck and FOX's Glee. Murphy got the series off to a whopper of a start by co-writing and directing the pilot episode, which you can watch on Hulu until October 31st (right now, you can also watch it and the second episode at the FX site). The third episode is the latest, and was written by Jennifer Salt, who is also acting as an executive producer of the series (Salt has been working with Murphy on TV and film projects since Nip/Tuck). American Horror Story has been thrilling to watch from week-to-week, and I highly recommend it. This haunted house story is fast-paced (with jump cuts used to amp up the creepiness), funny, scary, and just when you think it's gone about as far as it can go, it shows itself to have limitless imagination (at least, thus far).

Another series worth watching is Showtime's Homeland, which hooked me from the start, and also continues to move into surprising places about four episodes in. Homeland stars Claire Danes as a CIA operative who has the nagging intuition that an American Marine, who had been held captive by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for eight years before being rescued and returned to America, has turned, and may somehow be involved in a potential sleeper cell operation. With the help of a close confidant and his brother, she takes it upon herself to illegally place cameras and microphones in the Marine's home, and spends nights on the couch watching him sleep, looking for any sign of suspicious activity. The viewer is privy to certain things going on in the Marine's mind, but with enough ambiguity to keep on the fence about whether or not he is part of any such plot. I hadn't thought of any specific De Palma influence while watching, but The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin feels that the series evokes Antonioni's Blow-Up, De Palma's Blow Out, and Coppola's The Conversation.

Posted by Geoff at 10:29 PM CDT
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